Category Archives: power of God

Hug a Caretaker Today

The Single Most Destructive Attitude We Can Have – Part 3 – Resenting Caretaking

– By Joe Fornear

The type of resentment which might be most difficult to admit is resenting caretaking. Let’s face it, the futility and helplessness of simply observing someone facing a major crisis can be overwhelming. But frustration is compounded when a caretaker invests massive amounts of time, finances, energy and emotion.Dealing w Feelings

Job’s wife was not the first or last caretaker to crack under the strain. In hopes of ending the string of tragedies visited upon her family, she snapped at her sick husband: “Do you still hold to your integrity, curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Clearly, bitterness had crept in — she even resents the fact that he was coping well!

I can’t blame Mrs. Job though. Caretakers often journey through suffering under a different set of rules than patients. Consider three contrasts:

  • Patients have no problem “making it all about me,” while caretakers feel guilty even considering their feelings, so they usually just suppress them.
  • Patients loudly proclaim that they “want their life back,” as I did during my battle, and most onlookers totally understand. Yet such statements from a caretaker will usually be considered self-centered.
  • Common courtesy is to ask people how they are doing, but if you’re a caretaker, you will first be asked about the patient. Your well-being is either an afterthought or overlooked altogether.

So how does a caretaker handle an impossible load? The answer must be to tap into the supernatural. Human love has its limits. Divine love does not. He wants to give us His love to flow through us to others. Just ask and keep asking — moment by moment.

To help unravel the feelings and frustrations of caretaking, we offer a free new resource written by a caretaker for caretakers, patients and really everyone with feelings. My wife, Terri, recently published a book called Dealing with Feelings, A Journal of God’s Promises. This book will help you separate the lies from the truth about God. Lies can creep in during hard times. It is a tool to get to the root of your emotions to resolve them Biblically. As Jesus said in John 8:32 & 36, “The truth will set you free… and if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

So send us your address and we’ll send you Dealing With Feelings for free. If you insist on paying something, just make a donation to Stronghold Ministry. And hug a caretaker today!

Father, Your Son endured the ultimate suffering for our sin, and You watched – You understand this pain. Give us Your supernatural enablement to watch and graciously help when our loved ones suffer.

Don’t Release the Kraken… on Yourself!

The Single Most Destructive Attitude We Can Have – Part 2 – Resenting People

– By Joe Fornear

It’s true – “To err is human,” and to be wounded by humans is equally unavoidable. I’ve never met a forgiving - 5-20-2013cancer patient who hasn’t endured a thoughtless comment, gross incompetence, or the neglect of friend or family. It’s easy to develop resentment, especially when you’ve never been more reliant on others’ support. So how do you handle the emotional scars of your battle?

Consider Job’s situation. I wonder which aspect of his living nightmare was most painful. Was it losing all ten of his children, his livestock and his servants in a single day? Was it the tormenting boils that covered his skin from head to toe? Or was it the counsel of “friends,” who insisted the calamities were God’s payback for his sin?

Interestingly, before God restores Job’s health, family and fortunes, He asks him to pray for the well-being of his friends, releasing them from the scars they inflicted. After all, the Lord did not want Job’s nightmare to continue. Whether real or imagined, revenge only breeds more pain. So don’t release the Kraken… on yourself! As the Lord clearly warns:

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. – Ephesians 4:26

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15

So how do we get free of resentment? Keep in mind the second half of the old adage, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” As with all matters of righteousness, we are powerless to produce forgiveness. Yet at our invitation, the Lord can extend His grace in us and through us toward others. So turn to Him for the power to forgive.

Next time we’ll discuss the resentments that can spring up while taking care of others. For more on how to forgive – check out my Bible study on Forgiveness.

Father, grant us the grace to forgive others, just as You have forgiven us in Christ.

Guess Who Else Rose on Easter? (No Kidding)

He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
– Ephesians 2:6
Easter tomb empty - small

It seems fitting on April Fool’s Day and the day after Easter, to emphasize an overlooked benefit of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some might say it is too good to be true, but though today is 04-01-2013, this is no April Fool’s Day message.

Most Christians agree that when He rose, He defeated our most formidable enemy, death, but also the lesser enemies of fear, worry, sin, demons and satan. These all have been rendered powerless over us… unless of course we unnecessarily yield to them. Ephesians 3:18-21 lays out this victory won for us through God’s raising of Jesus:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

But as the infomercial guys say, “But that’s not all — there’s more!” The Father not only raised Jesus to be seated at His right hand in the heavenly realms, He also raised and seated all future believers in Christ, which means we who believe now:

He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:6

So what does this mean for us? The significance of Jesus’ seating at the right hand of the Father was about His authority over enemies. The same is true for us, if indeed we’re seated with Him and we are! We have been given the authority and the ability to say no to fear and worry, temptation and sin! We have access to the exact same resurrection power so that we can have the strength to rise above our circumstances! Perhaps we should reserve Easter Monday to celebrate our seating with Him in the heavenly places! Will you join me?

Father, cause us to grasp and claim all that You have said and written about us. Help us trust Your Word above our feelings or experience to embrace the total deliverance You have freely given us in Jesus Christ!

Getting a Handle on Handling More

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Does God ever give us more than we can handle?

Yes and no. Yes, He allows us to experience more than we can handle in our own strength, but no, He never gives us more than we can handle in His strength.

Life can be so challenging – even when we’re healthy. But when we’re fighting cancer or a life-threatening disease we can quickly come to the end of our strength. I was confronted by my utter weakness during my battle with Stage IV melanoma. Under the continuous barrage of physical and emotional stress, my natural human strength leaked out in a hurry. Actually, we were never designed to live even one moment apart from the Lord’s strength – whether sick or healthy! This is why Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Yet, thankfully, He has not left us powerless. He offers His Holy Spirit to those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior (more on receiving Him here). With the Spirit’s supernatural help, we are enabled to cope with circumstances that are humanly impossible.

So how do we tap into the Holy Spirit’s power? Simply turn to Him and ask Him to fill you up. He is eager to empower us. Luke quotes Jesus in 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” He also commands us to be filled with His Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, so He will certainly help us figure this out: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

This constant dependency on His Spirit must occur on a conscious level. He wants us to be clear on the source of our strength lest we be confused as to where our power ends and His power begins. Our power is limited – His is not.

So when it seems you’re running on empty and He has given you more than you can handle, ask Him to fill you to overflowing with His Holy Spirit’s power. He’ll do it and you’ll find yourself strengthened for each day’s journey.

Lord, help us transition from depending on our strength to living through Your amazing power.

Five Steps to Peace in Adversity

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. – Psalms 46:10-11

“What do you want to be when you grow up, little Johnny?” From our youth, being is confused with doing – no wonder we grownups don’t know the difference. To get to know you, the guy on the plane just has to know, “What do you do?” If you ever want to drive a new acquaintance crazy, be vague and mysterious about your occupation.

So then, a good thing like hard work can become a bad thing when it morphs into an obsession with self-realization. Before my cancer diagnosis, there were times when, admittedly, my to-do list was more important to me than my prayer list. Doing for God trumped being with God and allowing Him to empower my work.

So when we find ourselves in a crisis – such as a medical storm – it is easy to scramble about to do something. Anything. Against this dysfunctional backdrop, the Lord of the universe invites us, even commands us, to be still. But how do we be still?

  • Cease striving. According to Jesus, our human fretting accomplishes absolutely nothing anyway.
  • Calm yourself physically. Slowly relax your entire body starting from the top of your head down to your toes. Go ahead and do that now, breathing slowly and deeply along the way.
  • Calm yourself internally. Relax your mind and heart – don’t permit them to race on over various scenarios. Focus instead on the Lord and His love and power.
  • Consider that there is indeed a God, and as they say, we are not Him. Surrender to His control. “Know” that He is God.
  • Claim His protection over you. As Psalm 46 says, He is the Lord of hosts, angelic armies watching over you… and He is our Stronghold, a place of great strength and perfect rest.

Lord, when our world spins out of control, help us be still and trust Your strength to get us through.                   

 

Heavenly Caretaking

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him. -1 Peter 1:6-8

I had an interesting moment with the Presence of God at our Stronghold Ministry monthly prayer meeting. A new couple had joined us. Grace, whose name was chosen before the foundation of the world, is caretaker of her husband, Bill, who is battling ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating condition that is both terminal and painful.

I was watching this couple in awe of their poise, and was thinking, “I couldn’t do that.” I knew I was moved, but I didn’t fully know what I was experiencing until I arrived home and asked Jesus to open my eyes – this is what He showed me:

“Terri, you were sitting in the fellowship of My suffering, the glory that rests on those I choose to walk the road of pain for a season. My grace is all over them. When Joe went through the shadow of death with his cancer, many were surprised at how you persevered through it. Even your doctor remarked that you were a major tool in Joe’s healing! You laughed and said, ‘Oh no, this is Jesus – all Jesus!’ Your weakness was so obvious to you, and you felt My grace so strongly. I was carrying you! You even fear Joe’s cancer coming back because you don’t feel the grace I would give you then. Grace and Bill have My abundance for them now, you saw Me!”

I experienced something more precious than gold that night – faith in the midst of suffering. I was in the presence of God’s glory, His “Shekinah Glory.” It was shining brighter than I could take in, God’s smile and provision was in that place.

Lord, teach us how to lean on Your grace and not our own strength.

Healing Deserved?

“He is worthy for You to grant this (healing) to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”
… “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
… “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” – Luke 7:4-9

Patrick Swayze’s wife was on TV recently saying some pancreatic cancer sufferers “deserve” a cure. More than once someone told me I “deserved” to get healed from Stage IV metastatic melanoma because I was in a position to help people. Does anyone deserve God’s healing touch?

Though the leaders of the Jews vouched for his good works, the centurion insisted he was unworthy for his servant to be healed. But wait, He loved Israel and had built a synagogue and he wasn’t even Jewish! Yet he refused to approach Jesus in person and would not even allow Him to enter his home. Wow – now that is humility. No wonder Jesus said He had not seen such faith in all of Israel.

If we grasp both the heights of God’s holiness and the depths of our own sin, we will not approach God with a sense of entitlement. Instead we will humbly approach Him on the basis of grace – His unmerited favor.

Yet ironically, there is a boldness that comes from knowing how to properly approach Him:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16.

The word confidence in this verse means “outspoken fearlessness.” You might call it a “sanctified pushiness.”

We can boldly pray for healing with all of our hearts, yet our prayers must be tempered by the sincerity of humility. Amen?

Lord, we want to boldly approach You with our needs because of Your abundant grace and mercy, not our goodness.

Navigating A Perfect Storm

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10

Nothing rocks your boat like a cancer diagnosis or a life-threatening crisis. You find yourself in the midst of a perfect storm.

In the movie, The Perfect Storm, even when the front of the ship was being battered, the skipper played by George Clooney, kept the boat moving forward right into the teeth of the storm.

I think there is a lesson here for us in our navigation of life’s storms. We should face our storms head on. When we turn sideways or retreat, we are liable to get swamped by waves of burdens, worries and fears.

How do we face our storms head on?

1)   Don’t suppress fears and doubts.
If we have fears and doubts, we should acknowledge them and deal with them. Suppressing doesn’t really work anyway, does it? We can push thoughts down into our subconscious, but there they remain unresolved.

 2)   Find and grab onto a promise of God.
There is not one human struggle that is not addressed by a promise of God in the Bible. First and foremost, He promises His presence and His strength no matter what storms we face:

 Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

3)   Don’t mistake being positive with being strong.
Being positive can be a form of denial when we pretend we are strong when we are not. It is okay to be weak! Jesus said, “You can do nothing apart from Me” (John 15:5). And Paul added, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Don’t journey out into the deep alone. The strength necessary to fight a life-threatening crisis comes from God.

4)   Share with someone who can support you.
During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I found great relief when I accepted my own limitations. From time to time I would let down my guard and let people help me. I wish I had been more open with others – it would have been an easier journey.

Lord, teach us how to boldly face and navigate the crises in our lives – with You.

A Builder’s Toughest Customer

“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” -Isaiah 66:1-2

Three thousand years ago, God revealed His furniture couldn’t fit in any house we might build Him. His favorite chair, His throne, was and is as large as heaven. Earth, we are told, is but a footstool to prop up His legs – not that He’s ever weary.

At the time, no one could truly appreciate the sheer scale of His claim. Now with the aide of super-powerful telescopes, astronomers estimate His throne is decorated with some three thousand million billion stars, that’s 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars – all uniquely named by Him (Isaiah 40:25–26).

With such jaw-dropping immensity and powers, one might wonder if the Lord is approachable. Yet He provides a way. He reveals His fondness for those who are awed and humbled by Him and His Words. Our best path is to not wedge Him into our little dream house with the white picket fence on Easy Street, but to bow before Him and listen to His Words.

Perhaps you have tendencies like me and like Peter, who constantly commanded the Son of God on the best way to proceed. During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I thought God was wasting precious time with seemingly pointless distractions and setbacks. I needed to grow in yielding my “wisdom” to His, bowing before Him to seek His Words and comfort.

Perhaps with all of His ability and goodness, the house He has in mind is far better than any I could ever conceive! After all, who would have thought anyone could make such a large chair?

Lord, please grant us the humility to consider Your judgment to be as awesome as Your creation.

The Battle for Your Mind

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Martin Luther once said, “You can’t prevent a bird from flying over your head, but you can prevent him from building a nest in your hair.” We can’t prevent doubts and fears from popping into our thoughts, especially when we’re going through a major crisis like fighting cancer. Yet we are not victims – we do not have to give in to destructive voices.

After surgeries, chemos, drugs and radiation during my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I felt very vulnerable to these mind games:

     What if? Why is this…? When will…? Woe is me!

Yet as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10, we don’t have to fight in the flesh – our own human resources. We have powerful spiritual weapons to wage the war, and winning the battle for our minds is surely a supernatural feat. What are these weapons?

  • God’s Power“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). Ask Him to fill you with His power to fight the battle for your mind. He will release the very power of Jesus’ resurrection in you and through you (Ephesians 1:20).
  • God’s Promises – When Jesus was under spiritual attack, even He quoted and stood firm on the promises of God found in the Bible. The Lord has promised to never leave or forsake us. So we can rest in Him – He promises to carry us every step of the way. Remember, His promises are true, whether we feel them or not. We should walk by faith – not sight.
  • God’s Proclamations“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ”(2 Corinthians 2:14). Thank Him that we already have the victory in Christ over agitating thoughts – because we do! Praise becomes us, and it chases off gloom like no other weapon.
    • Praise Him that He is greater than cancer!
    • Praise Him that nothing is too hard for Him to handle – including depression!
    • Praise Him that He has provided every spiritual blessing we need to handle a battle with cancer and the games of our minds! (2 Peter 1:3).

Lord, we rise up and reign with You in the battle for our minds through the divine weapons that You have freely provided!

When A Plan Comes Together

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. – Acts 4:27-28

Who put Jesus to death on that cross on Good Friday? Was it Herod? Pilate? The jealous Pharisees?

Not long after Good Friday, Peter’s answer to that question may surprise you. But first, let’s review Peter’s initial response to Jesus’ death. He went into stealth mode out of abject fear of Herod, Pilate and the Pharisees. He “knew” one thing for sure: if he was out of control – everything was out of control.

Yet Jesus’ resurrection transformed Peter’s thinking between Good Friday and the time of his prayer in Acts 4. It was God who had “gathered together” the rulers to do what He had purposed and predetermined to occur. God didn’t violate the free will of these rulers, He simply utilized it. Isaiah foretold this sovereign planning of God, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (53:10). The Father sacrificed His Son as an offering for sin, so that He could be just by punishing sin, yet merciful to those who receive Jesus’ offering for their sin (Romans 3:26). More here.

Far from a tragic defeat, the crucifixion was part of God’s perfect plan.

So what is the lesson for those in crisis and battling cancer? Could suffering, even death, be a part of God’s sovereign and perfect plan? When I battled Stage IV metastatic melanoma and they gave me days to live in May of 2003, this is exactly what I concluded: my suffering and even my possible death, would all be part of God’s perfect plan.

Honestly, my resolve on this stance was shaky at times. Yet, during those moments when I surrendered to His sovereignty, I was filled with serenity.

We may feel out of control, but that does not mean He is. The lesson of Easter is that He trumps apparent tragedies. Will you trust Him?

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Fear Is a Choice

Fear’s greatest deception may be that it carries an air of inevitability – as if fear is the only appropriate response to a very troubling circumstance. Yet the phrase, “Do not fear,” appears 57 times in the Bible. The Lord is not only encouraging us not to fear, but clearly indicating we don’t have to fear. Fear is, after all, a choice. Does the Lord make it too easy? Perhaps we just make it too hard.

The Bible and history provide a long list of those who scoffed at fear in the midst of the most daunting dilemmas. You can join this list. Still have some doubts? Honestly, I still struggle with fears and insecurities. I’ve been thinking recently about root beliefs that bring me freedom from fear. The Lord wants to be our Stronghold, not fear.

1) God is on your side.

The God and King of the universe adopts those who receive Jesus’ free gift of righteousness into His royal family. (more on how here). To make this possible, He gave us His very best – Jesus. All other needs are minor and He willingly meets those needs FOR FREE. Freedom from fear is one of the “all things” that He freely guarantees in Romans 8.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? – Romans 8:31b-32

 2) God guarantees victory over any fear.

Think about it – can anything be stronger or more powerful than God or His love? No possible way! So we can be totally victorious over fear in any situation – including sickness.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:35 & 37

 Please note: the ability and power to overcome fear does not come from you – it comes from Him!

 3) God is not punishing you.

Sometimes we believe that we deserve something bad to happen to us. So the Lord will certainly not deliver us or even help us – we are on our own. This would certainly be cause to fear – if it were true. We must shake all guilt and shame through the work and shed blood of Christ on the cross. If you have trusted in Him and Him alone as your personal Savior, realize He has taken away all of your sins at the cross, even sins for which you’re struggling to forgive yourself.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 

Don’t ask for freedom from fear. Based on these passages, you already have it! So just claim your freedom now. Just thank Him now for granting it to you freely!

For a related devotional – check out “Panic Is A Choice.”

Lord, we fear NOTHING with You on our side!

Knowing God in a Crisis

I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly. -Jesus in John 10:10

Nothing tests our knowledge of God like a major life crisis. Fortunately, nothing has the potential to improve our knowledge of Him like a major crisis. A little desperation goes a long way.

We can know God on several different levels. The following categories of knowing Him can help us identify new areas for growth.

  • Savior – If we don’t know Him as Savior, we don’t know Him at all. Our relationship with Him must begin with acknowledgement of the sin that has separated us from Him. When we trust in Jesus Christ to cleanse us from our sin and guilt, we become “saved” from our sin. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). So the key to knowing Him as Savior is faith. More here.
  • Lord – This means we closely follow Him as our leader. We want to know and do what He asks. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I ask?” The key to knowing Him as Lord is faithfulness. Keep in mind in moments of indecision – He always has our greatest benefit in view.
  • Master – Serving Him is crucial to knowing Him. We follow Christ’s example in using our God-given gifts and talents to be a blessing to others. The key to knowing Him as Master is maintaining a servant attitude to God and people.
  • Life – Knowing Him as Life means we are drawing power and resources from Him. It means His peace and joy become ours as we lean on Him. Paul had so developed his reliance on the Lord during fiery trials that he could say, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in Me” (Galatians 2:20). The key to knowing Him as Life is dependence. And Jesus said He wants to give us an “abundant” life, which means a fulfilled life.

Paul said knowing Him better was the most rewarding goal of his life. He considered all other pursuits to be like cow manure (Philippians 3). What do you think?

Lord, reveal Your sheer beauty and awesome power to us; we want to know You better!

Star Maker

To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing. – Isaiah 40:25-26

When Isaiah recorded these words of God, he knew the stars were numerous and beautiful. Little did he know the true scale of the vastness of the heavens. Astronomers tell us there are 200 billion stars residing in just one of the smaller galaxies, the Milky Way. The universe holds a mere 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! That’s three thousand million billion stars, each of which God has assigned a name. I suppose remembering so many names is easy compared to creating them in the first place. (Oh and all of those movie stars – He created them too).

The sheer volume of stars boggles the brain, but their beauty is equally astounding. We are just beginning to capture images of what God has fashioned in the far corners of the universe. We call cloud formations of clouds of gas, dust and stars – nebulae. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to view these images of nebulae, allowing “the greatness of His might and the strength of His power” to sink in.

Is it any wonder that in hard times, God asks us to look away from our earthly dilemmas and look up to Him and His stellar handiwork? Still, how does this help if we’re sick and laying flat on our backs?

In May of 2003, when I was battling Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I remember lying in a hospital bed, shaken by doubts and fears which had broad-sided me in the wee hours of the night. As the Lord began redirecting my focus, He reminded me of the complexity and vastness of His creation, and how amazingly awesome He is. Out of nothing, He designed and launched this entire cosmos. Yet Psalm 139:17-18 tell us He thinks of you and me constantly AND with great fondness. Romans 8:28 says He works ALL things to the good for those who love Him.

So what is there to fear? The Star Maker loves us!

Lord, give us just a glimpse of your true nature and we will be lifted out of our troubles.

Hope Trumps Despair

The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit, who can bear it? – Proverbs 18:14

When you’re reeling from sickness, hope is essential. This verse states we can indeed endure sickness. A greater issue is not our physical condition, but our emotional and spiritual state. There are Stage IV cancer patients who are happier than wildly successful celebrities. Circumstances don’t have to dictate our sense of well-being. In fact, I spoke just this morning with a Stage IV patient, Itai Mhuriro, who made this amazing statement, “This cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has caused me to live each day the way it’s supposed to be lived!”

So how do we maintain hope when our body is being torn down by disease? How do we avoid despair? During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I had moments, even days of slipping into despair. So I learned from my mistakes and from God-ordained breakthroughs. If I had to boil down the lessons to one core truth, it is this:

 We must believe that through God’s power we can handle anything
the disease throws at us.

Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The burden is not on my ability or your ability to cope, but on Christ’s. Let Him hold you up.

Lord, let Your strength and love fill us with hope right now.